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South Africa should focus on urban-led and private sector-driven plans for accelerated growth

CDE is one of the leading independent policy research and advocacy organisations in South Africa. (Image source: CDE)

Ann Bernstein, executive director of the Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE), has described that South Africa is facing dismal economic growth in recent times with a decline of 0.7 per cent in the Q1 2017

“Growth is not SA’s priority despite the rhetoric. We hear about growth but this is not really at the heart of our national priorities,” said Bernstein during a round table discussion on SA’s growth agenda, which was convened by Millis Soko, director of UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB).

She has further mentioned that SA is confronting less than one per cent growth per year and in 2017, the country is expecting to achieve 1.3 per cent of growth. “Since 2009, every growth projection by government has had to be revised downwards. We are nowhere near the NDP growth figure,” she said.

She has pointed that part of the problem was due to the government’s many competing plans for improving growth such as the National Development Plan (NDP), the New Growth Path and the Industrial Policy Action Plan.

“If you read these plans you will see that they contradict each other. It is impossible to implement these three plans simultaneously. They have different views on the state, the markets, the way growth will take place, where jobs will come from and a whole range of issues,” Bernstein explained.

She added, “Government says it wants growth but the trouble is it wants other things as well. So we want to have state-led development, but one has to look at what is happening at Eskom and SAA today and you question our capacity of state led development. This state is in decline in very many areas and its failure to deliver leads to increased costs for many people and the economy.”

Recently, the CDE has published a report to identify national priorities for faster economic and employment growth. According to the report, “South Africa is on a low road of stagnating growth, policy confusion and gridlock, rising social tension and uncertainty about the future.”

To accelerate growth in SA, the country needs development that is urban-led, private sector-driven, enabled by a smart state and targeted at mass employment, said Bernstein. She further explained that the government should place the goal at the top of its policy agenda as a first step towards accelerating growth and employment.

“SA cannot be pro-growth and anti-business at the same time. Negative attitudes to business leads to more and more regulation, not growth,” she added.

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